McLaren team boss looks back on FP1 with satisfaction, despite: ‘We were not able to show the speed’

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McLaren team boss looks back on FP1 with satisfaction, despite: 'We were not able to show the speed'

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella is satisfied with the way his team’s first free practice went. Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris did not manage to finish higher than eighth and tenth respectively, but according to the Italian team boss, this was mainly because McLaren decided to focus on completing its own program. Stella has also expressed his wishes for the rest of the race weekend.

McLaren did not start the race weekend in Japan as the British racing team had hoped. Oscar Piastri did not get higher than P8 during the first free practice, and Lando Norris just made it into the top ten. Nevertheless, team boss Stella is satisfied with the first kilometers made at Suzuka. “It was a fairly smooth session for us,” the McLaren team boss reflected on the first free practice in Japan, speaking to Sky Sports F1. “We tested the balance and level of the rear wing of the two cars.” The Italian emphasizes that his team mainly wanted to use the session for testing, and that therefore the fast lap times of both McLaren drivers left something to be desired.

“The most important thing for FP1 is to go through your program, understand the balance and tire degradation,” Stella explains of the importance of the session for McLaren. “We weren’t able to show the speed over one lap because you can’t replicate it in a second lap. The relegation is quite high,” the team boss refers to the well-known characteristic of the Suzuka circuit.

Stella hopes for a repeat of the previous Japanese GP

The McLaren team boss has also been keeping an eye on the other teams during the first session on Japanese soil, and Stella noticed that Ferrari and Red Bull have both used one set of hard tires, so the Italian hopes this is a good omen if the high degradation that continues from the first session. Stella has also already expressed what result he hopes for during the weekend at Suzuka, and especially hopes for a repeat of last year. “Let me start with the performance of Oscar, a rookie who qualified in P2 and finished on the podium,” Stella reflects on the 2023 edition of the Japanese Grand Prix. “If we repeat that performance, we could benefit from our advantage in the high-speed corners, but our competitors have come closer,” Stella warns.

First McLaren upgrade in Miami

Finally, Stella also gave a glimpse of the upgrades that McLaren hopes to add to the MCL38 soon. “To improve we need to upgrade the car, and an upgrade is coming in Miami,” the McLaren team boss reveals, also saying that the first main part of the McLaren upgrade package will arrive around rounds 6 and 7.

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